I’m moving offices. You know what packing up is all about. What a pain! It’s easiest to put everything in boxes and be done with it. Easy yes. Effective no. I’m going through everything (yes everything) and eliminating what didn’t work and retaining what did. This is not a stroll down memory lane, although some of my reports go back over 20 years. I retain them because they are my resources. Not only are these documents testimonials to projects gone well; they are business cases I reference back to.
1. You Were What You Were Even When You “Weren’t”
We all feel we are constantly moving forward and improving. It’s amazing – and reinforcing – to see that we, indeed, were “there” even when we were starting out. There are kernels and nuggets in our seminal work that still are very much a part of the professional we have become today. Back then, we were building our roadmap. Right now, we are choosing to travel it.
2. Consistency of Professionalism and Respect Is Your Cornerstone
All of us have client files. Do you have a file of all the RFPs you ever responded to? How about a file of all of your contracts and description of services to be provided? There are some good businesses cases in these files. There are some great stories as well. You can read your professional evolution: have you moved from someone who responds to all requests towards someone who has the confidence and experience to draw your personal line in the professional sand? There’s a common denominator running across these documents: all clients – regardless of business size, degree of difficulty, and degree of sincerity in issuing the RFP – receive the same level of professionalism in my responses. My word has always been my bond and it still is.
3. Core Personal Values are the Hallmarks of Your Professionalism
Have you ever said to yourself: “I’d be a rich man/woman if I told the customer what they wanted to hear?” Please don’t go there. Ever. All of us know folks who are serial offenders in this area. Perhaps they are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of customers who realize they didn’t get what they thought they were paying for. Perhaps these folks convinced themselves that this is what their professional output is all about. Perhaps they cater to customers who don’t know what high quality output is all about. Don’t stress over this stuff. Your core values underpin everything you do as a person and as a professional. What are your core values? Mine are integrity, ethical behavior, respect and trustworthiness. I let my customers know them from our initial meeting. Are your customers getting answers to questions that they want to hear? That’s not scientific. How about getting comprehensive answers and directional insights which are in the best interest of their company. Ah, that feels better.
4. Quality, not Quantity, is important unless you sell widgets
If you keep lots of files (electronic and otherwise) simply to make yourself feel good about your output, slog through what’s really inside these files. Decide whether these files represent lessons learned, both good and bad, or are filler. I retain files that are case studies. These are the files which are the bases of some of the stories I tell to current and future clients. These are the case studies in which someone learned something, either client, consultant, or both. These are the projects which pointed me towards doing my best work for the “best” customer personaes. These are the files which document what successful businesses look like, and don’t look like.
What would you learn if you read through all your files, proposals, and final reports?
What case studies and stories are available for your future customers to learn from?